Kenya: Isiolo Miraa Traders Protest After Kiosks Demolished

Miraa traders in Isiolo town Thursday morning barricaded the Isiolo-Moyale highway protesting demolition of their kiosks by county officers.

The structures were on a road reserve.

The irate traders placed huge boulders and burnt tyres on the busy road, forcing motorists plying the route to turn back while passengers traveling in public service vehicles were forced to use motorbikes.

Police officers Isiolo were forced to use tear gas to disperse the traders who threatened to continue blocking the road over claims that they were being discriminated against.


The traders, who early this week started reopening their kiosks despite the ban on the sale and transportation of miraa due to the coronavirus pandemic, demanded compensation for the loss of their properties and relocation to an alternative site.

"It is so inhumane for the county officers to demolish our kiosks without serving us with notices. We have lost properties worth Sh3 million and demand compensation," said Japhet Muchiri, the chairman of Isiolo miraa traders association.

The county, they said should have come up with a plan to set aside specific areas where they will be permanently operating from and not forcibly evicting them.

Speaking to journalists, the traders lamented that other kiosks opposite Isiolo town's main bus stage were spared in the demolitions that took place on Wednesday night.


"Even if the business was banned to help curb the spread of coronavirus, our kiosks should not have been demolished. The county should have instead facilitated our relocation to alternative sites as we solely rely on this business to feed our families," said Mr David Mututi, a miraa seller.

Isiolo Municipality Manager Osman Halake did not respond to calls when reached out for a comment over the matter.

Before the incident, the traders continued selling miraa in broad daylight in total disregard to the ban announced by the county Covid-19 emergency response team.


Some of them had started hawking the stimulant as they collected contacts from new customers for easier subsequent deliveries.

To evade confiscation of the vehicles transporting miraa, the traders have been using boda bodas and bribing police officers manning road blocks on the Meru-Isiolo road.

The vehicles ferrying the stimulant from Meru are now being offloaded in Maili Tano area.

Miraa farmers, who earn about Sh20 million from the stimulant daily, are facing uncertain economic times.

Among the counties already enforcing ban on the stimulant include Wajir, Kitui, Kirinyaga, Mandera, Isiolo and Garissa.

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